In 1984, the fourth-generation (C4) Corvette was one of the quickest and best-performing cars you could buy. This, however, is not the C4's day.
Three decades later, the car is more rooted in the 1980s than David Hasselhoff. Major improvements in the engines and tires of much more plebeian cars have all but eliminated that quickness advantage. That shouldn't be a surprise -- after all, many of the greatest muscle cars of the 1960s would lose to a minivan today.
Just how much has the C4 fallen, you ask? In 1984, the team at MotorWeek tested the then-new C4 Corvette and found it could go from 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds. Every single car you see below would beat it in a drag race, and there's nary a sports car -- or even a true sport sedan -- among them.
0-60: 7.6 seconds
Base price: $28,595
Fun fact: the Pacifica isn't the only minivan faster than the '84 'Vette. Try telling someone in 1984, just as minivans began to supplant the station wagon, that the Plastic Fantastic would get beat in a drag race by a vehicle designed to take kids to soccer practice.
0-60: 7.8 seconds
Base price: $21,485
The Elantra literally has the word "ECO" in its name, so you'd think it's not meant to be fast, right? That's kinda the funny thing about the Elantra ECO, though… it has quite a bit more torque (and is consequently faster to 60mph) than its non-ECO Elantra brethren. Amazingly, that's enough to help it squeak past the C4 'Vette.
0-60: 6.9 seconds
Base price: $20,250
It's as quirky as it is polarizing, but with a 0-60 time of under seven seconds, the JUKE is more or less a poster child for the evolution of automobiles. Think back to the cars of the 1980s that occupied a similar space in the market, and you're staring in the face of a second-generation Toyota Tercel. Let that sink in for a minute.
0-60: 7.6 seconds
Base price: $23,155
Honda's ubiquitous sedan has enough grunt off the line to make this list without jumping to its more powerful V6 engine. The result is a mid-sized four-door that just squeaks past the time limit, at a price below what the C4 went for when it was new -- without adjusting for three decades' worth of inflation.
0-60: 6.8 seconds
Base price: $19,895
The VW Golf, of course, has many fans. This isn't the Golf R, though, which is legitimately quick, even by today's standards. Nor is it the still-sporty GTI. It's your good ol' impress-your-conservative-uncle-at-Thanksgiving-with-your-frugality Volkswagen Golf, and for under 20 grand, it has some quickness.
0-60: 7.6 seconds
Base price: $16,975
The Cruze isn't Chevy's cheapest offering, but in many ways it's designed to appeal to the widest swath of potential buyers. That's a proposition that doesn't usually include acceleration, but 7.6 seconds is all the Cruze's 153hp four-cylinder engine needs to propel the car to 60mph.
0-60: 7 seconds
Base price: $27,225
As with the Honda Accord, it's the base Taurus that makes this list. While you could spring for the much, much quicker Taurus SHO, the fact remains that the modern classic that is the original SHO is only barely faster than the cheapest Taurus you can get today -- which itself is still faster than that earliest of C4 Corvettes.
0-60: 7.2 seconds
Base price: $31,520
Crossovers weren't much of a thing in 1984, but that's hardly relevant. What is relevant is that we live in an age where a mid-level crossover that costs (after adjusting for inflation) just over half of what a Corvette did, is demonstrably faster off the line.
0-60: 7.3 seconds
Base price: $29,924
Yes, that's a Kia that'll run you just under 30 grand, but it's still a reasonably quick Kia that by any objective standard is far more comfortable than the Corvette was in 1984.
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